What to Do When You are Plagued by Too Many Ideas

Once upon a time I found it difficult to come up with good ideas for articles, essays and books. No longer. Now I’m plagued with the opposite problem. I have too many good ideas. I think I’m driving my literary agent crazy.

In just one year I’ve given her four different nonfiction book proposals. She’s peddled two already and is starting to peddle another. I just sent her an email telling her about a book I want to self-publish. In the same email, I mentioned that a successful author has just released a new book on the same topic of a short book I self-published a few years ago–and for which I have a proposal. I asked if we should pursue this project. I have about 10 books on my spin-off list (follow-up books to one proposed) in one genre; I have seven on the spin-off list in another genre. Then I have another book I want to write and one that is written that don’t fall into either of these genres. Plus, I have a novel that’s finished and needs a good edit.

And I haven’t mentioned the fact that I have five blogs and an on-line column–all of which help me promote my books-to-be. They help me build platform. I come up with blog post topics for these daily and weekly.

Some might call me crazy. I just say I’m driven, passionate, on purpose. I have a lot of ideas.That said, sometimes I do feel a bit overwhelmed and frustrated because I just don’t have the time to complete all my ideas. In fact, client work, family commitments and other things more often than not get in the way of me pursuing my ideas.

So, what do you do when you have too many ideas and not enough time to complete them all? Here are a few techniques and tools I’ve found helpful:

  1. Prioritize your projects. Some ideas may have to remain ideas until you can get to them; others may be brought to the front burner while you bring them to completion. Others may need some attention but not all your attention; don’t let these die while you give life to the priority ideas, but don’t let them suck the life out of the ideas that need the most attention right now to thrive.
  2. Devote different days or weeks to different projects. This way you can spend time on more than one project. You won’t be able to work on more than three or four projects at a time (less is better), but you won’t feel as frustrated by having to table so many of your good ideas.
  3. Give one project all of your attention for a given amount of time. In this case, the other ideas all get put on the back burner while you get one up and running. This means prioritizing and then running with one idea at a time.
  4. Divide up your day between different projects. I do this; it’s not the best way to handle a multitude of ideas or projects, but it does work. It can cause a sense of overwhelm, but you won’t feel you have left so many projects undone. Assess if you are doing any of your ideas justice, however. You may not be.
  5. Decide which projects are the most timely. Take these on. They are the most likely to sell.
  6. Decide which projects are “evergreen.” These could be sold at any time. There’s no rush; they can wait.
  7. Figure out which project you feel most passion about; this may be the idea you should take on first while your energy around it is high. You’ll complete it faster and more efficiently–and probably do a better job with it overall.
  8. Assess which idea gives you a sense of purpose. Maybe you can build your whole business around this sense of purpose. Ask yourself if the other ideas seem to fall into line beneath this one idea. If so, take it one first.
  9. Determine if one idea help bring all the others together into a cohesive brand for you or your business. If so, that is the best idea to take on. It will help you develop a recognizable name for yourself.
  10. Relax. Remind yourself that you don’t have to take action on all your ideas today. There’s always tomorrow, next week, next month, next year. Simply commit to addressing each idea, one by one. Make a To-Do List or an Idea File. Visit it often. But don’t stress out over it.

Having too many ideas constitutes a great writer’s problem. A deficit of ideas represents a writer’s ultimate downfall.


  1. This is a great post. Your list gives us the tools to take it one step at a time. Thanks for sharing.

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